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Kids' health checks - what kids' health checks? Ros Dodd ponders whether we've truly learned anything from the Victoria Climbie tragedy

This week I phoned our local GP's surgery to make an appointment for my nearly four-year-old daughter, April, to have a health and development check-up with the health visitor, having noted in her Personal Child Health Record booklet that she had been due to be seen between 36 and 42 months.

We duly went along, only to be told that this particular check-up was discontinued about two years ago on the basis that most children of that age are at pre-school and therefore if there are any problems, the school staff will refer youngsters for an examination.

Now, excuse me, but after the harrowing Victoria Climbie case seven years ago, weren't we led to believe that the Government had put in place a more effective child protection system to prevent such a tragedy happening again?

If so, I wonder what it might be and how it works when it appears that the opposite is true. April hasn't been seen by a doctor, nurse or health visitor since the designated 18-24 month check-up (even then we weren't contacted; I had to ring the surgery to remind them the appointment was due).

Since then - nearly 18 months ago - my husband and I could have been abusing or neglecting April without anyone having the faintest idea of what was happening. April does indeed go to pre-school, but she goes only because we choose to send her. If we were subjecting her to ill treatment, the likelihood is that we wouldn't let her go (if only to disguise the evidence of our maltreatment.)

It strikes me that whatever system is in place, it is one that serves only those parents who are caring properly for their children and, by default, puts vulnerable youngsters at even greater risk.

My daughter is well and happy, but if she wasn't, how would the local authority find out? My hunch is that any new policies introduced as a result of the Victoria Climbie case are simply another example of government spin and don't, in practice, do anything more to protect the welfare of children.

Isn't it time the Government put its money where its mouth is and put in place a system of regular unannounced visits to the homes where young children are known to be living? Or is that a bit too much like simple common sense?

Would you welcome the prospect of unannounced visits from health visitors checking on your kids? Or does that smack of the ultimate nanny state? Leave a comment on The Stirrer Forum.

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